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Reszeld: First Do No Harm

 Post subject: Reszeld: First Do No Harm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:21 pm 
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The young man looked at his face in the polished surface of a kettle-hat. It was practically the same as the steel helmet which soldiers still wear, and it did not make a good mirror, but it was the best he could get. He was trying to see what he was, and he was afraid of what he would find.

He thought that there was something wrong with him. All through his life--even when he was a great man with the world at his feet--he was to feel this gap: something at the very bottom of his heart of which he was aware, and somewhat ashamed, but which he did not understand.

[...] but there was a more insistent thought in his head also. It was a thought about the face in the metal, and about the thing which must have gone wrong in the depths of his soul to make a face like that. He was not a self-deceiver. He knew that whichever way he turned the morion, it would tell him the same story.

So far as he could see--and he felt that there must be some reason for it, somewhere--his face was like that of the monsters from the King's menagerie. He looked like an African ape.


-th white, the once and future king


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 Post subject: Re: Reszeld: First Do No Harm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:33 pm 
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Posts: 7
"No," he told her, uncharacteristically cold. She stared at the mug of tea cooling in her colourless pale hands.

Reszeld finished his appointments in New Halas with methodical process, argued with a broker who refused to accept his business for fully unfounded reasons, and eventually found himself at a seedy little tavern near the artisan's guild--one of the few in this miserable place that would tolerate the presence of a dark elf.

He stared down at the repulsive yellow ale he had been given and brooded, after a fashion. Primarily he wondered why he did not feel much of anything at all. He tried, of course. It would be insane not to at least try. He had even sent the woman to murder a unicorn, one of Tunare's Most Favoured, to expedite Sidyana's cure--and to see what would happen. It had nearly gored her. She was unliving; such a thing as that could have meant her real and final end. He could have killed the unicorn himself, of course. Nothing really stopped him but inconvenience. He had told her no for similar reasons. Now she would probably be intolerable, he suspected. He didn't really understand it.

After an hour of this he shoved the mug away and left the bar. He despised New Halas. He hated the snow and the ice and the wet and the cold and the sharp dry air, and worst of all its great open valleys with the terrific blue sky above. He did not like its people any more than they liked him, but he stubbornly kept his appointments there--Halasians could be damned, as he needed the money and, besides, there was no more direct route to his apothecary in the Frostfangs.

That was his destination now, as he abandoned the filthy Halasian ale and left, returning to life beneath the miserable glaring sun and the clear blue sky. The commonvalley was strangely empty. No smoke rose from the chimneys. Strangely, he smelled rot.

That, as it happened, was when his day became a little worse.


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 Post subject: Re: Reszeld: First Do No Harm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:41 pm 
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Posts: 7
Dismembered, wet corpses littered the long ice tunnel that snaked through the Frostfangs and opened into the Halasian valley. Drowned swollen faces stared up at him from the snow. A severed hand trembled somewhere in his peripheral vision, clutching at anything within its reach. At the crest of the pathway stood three men, none the better for wear -- a kerra bard, the idiot paladin that haunted the Golden Scale, and a teir'dal thug he'd seen for a few scrapes in the past. He couldn't remember his name.

The scrapper must have heard his footsteps; he gave Reszeld a cursory look over the shoulder. "Say, doctor..." he drawled, shaking out one of his hands, "is the cold gonna make it easier or harder to break some zombie spine?"

Reszeld took in the scene with a sort of fascinated dismay. So much for simply leaving the city. How had this happened? He saw three dead guards. Where were the reinforcements? Did these fools care nothing for their own city? Had it fallen so quickly? What a fortuitous day to make his housecalls to Halas. Without his armour, and without his mace. He slowly crossed the tunnel until he came round behind the fragile line held by the bruiser, the paladin and the bard. This was ridiculous. There were weapons on the corpses of the guards, of course, but he was not so foolish as to wade twenty yards out through the carnage on his own.

"You will find reanimated necrotic flesh brittle," he clipped, "and unresistent to direct, localised pressure. Fire. If someone had fire, of course..." Some of the corpses began to move again. The paladin charged, like a fool. The bard darted after him. And there, far in the distance, a line of black and grey bodies shambling toward them, stumbling through the snow...

Well. He opened his bag. If nothing else, it was the bruiser's lucky day: a great deal of medically-assisted homicide lay before him. Perhaps he'd even live through it.


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 Post subject: Re: Reszeld: First Do No Harm
PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:24 pm
Posts: 7
He popped the syringe into the back of the bruiser's neck. The wiry thug shuddered and convulsed and scrambled about until he was sitting upright, breathing like he'd just run a marathon. He acclimated himself to consciousness surprisingly well. Perhaps he'd died before. "Ha-ha," he laughed, nervously, "can't -- can't believe I let the little one get me." He rubbed the back of his neck, nearly trembling with lingering, incessent energy.

"Yes," Reszeld observed. He taped off the syringe and returned it to his bag. "Keep your wounds clean. Iodine. Soap. Hot water. Do not tolerate even the slightest sign of infection. Unless you wish to spend the remainder of your life in irreversible, impartible necrosis. You as well," he told the idiot paladin. Sorann--his name was Sorann, wasn't it?--stood some feet away, bragging about a killing blow.

As the bloody haze of battle left him, the doctor found his thoughts narrowing around the events of the day. The Knights of Freeport, lingering at the bell. The brief glimpse of the Lady Commander, perched on her tiny horse, staring down from above the quay. Testing the cities for war, he imagined. Wasteful. All the same. He and his would not be unprepared any longer.

The dark elf paced methodically through the carnage, trapping still-moving samples in carefully labeled vials. Once satisfied, he gathered his things and abandoned the battlefront before the still-living portion of the Halasian guard arrived to ask him questions. His errand to the apothecary would have to wait.

As he waited at the dock-bell for the next ferry, he looked off over the Frostfangs, sulking as they were in the gloom of evening and coming snow.

Vrei could fend for herself. It wasn't as if she was incapable. His errands in New Halas were now done, indefinitely.

Still a shame, though.


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 Post subject: Re: Reszeld: First Do No Harm
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 5:29 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 21, 2011 11:24 pm
Posts: 7
(some days later)

He was late in returning from the Raven -- company had kept him, rare though such a thing was, and it was nearly three a.m. when he found himself again in his tattered little clinic, methodically filling out lines of new accounts payable, invoices owed, paid and drafted. He was preoccupied and annoyed; when the metal chimes that hung from his door clattered, he never even looked up from his desk.

"We are closed," the doctor announced. A single candle guttered at his side. "Return in the morning."

Footsteps creaked across the old wood-panel floor. "We wish to see you now," a sibilant voice demanded.

"Closed," the dark elf repeated. If his mind had not been elsewhere, his sense of self-preservation might have caused him to look up a moment sooner than he actually did. "You may return t..."

Three of the four armoured figures that stood in his waiting-room crossed the floor with little delay, and then he saw only stars.

--

Reszeld sat on the floor for some time, staring at the blank granite wall across the room. He touched his face, looked at the smear of blood on his fingers, and remained still some moments longer.

At length he coughed and rose to his feet, boots crunching over broken glass. "Welcome to Freeport," he rasped bitterly, coughing until the air was back in his lungs. He swept what books remained on the desk off and across the floor in a brief spat of temper.

He scanned his surroundings. The door hung open on a hinge. The glass counter was broken. Books everywhere; his doing. Chairs on their sides. Spilled ink. A note tacked above his desk -- he knew what it said without reading it. Coals kicked out of the hearth: rugs black with soot, but not fire. At least they hadn't set fire. He touched his face again; every time he blinked his eye stuck. He stalked into his examination room, lit new candles, propped up a tiny hand-mirror (for it was the only mirror in this place) and a bottle of iodine, and concentrated on methodically cleaning the gashes that had peeled back his skin in an arc around his right eye.

He still felt a little stunned, but pain was sobering him quickly. He had just threaded a tiny needle with sinew and pierced it through his brow when a voice behind him asked, "Shall I follow them?"

Reszeld started and nearly dropped the needle: for a brief moment, his heart hammered and his entire existence centered around holding the little thing very still and very steadily and nowhere near his eye. He inhaled with measured, restrained fury. "Announce yourself when you enter this place," he snapped and continued his work, more quickly this time. He did not speak again until he was finished. He knotted the sinew and snapped it off and held the needle under the strange, bubbling purple font that rose from the counter for some moments.

"No. Nothing will come of it." His lips twisted around a scowl. There was only one very predictable ending for "let's follow four armoured and armed men through the depths of the Freeport in the middle of the night," and eight stitches were enough for one evening. He replaced the needle in a tiny lined case and began to put things away with ludicrous neatness, considering his surroundings.

"They have left you a note," the voice observed.

"Yes. I am well aware."


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